Self Care: Luxury or Necessity?

Author: Rubi Garyfalakis – Art as Therapy

“Self care is not about self-indulgence. It’s about self-preservation.” – Audrey Lorde

According to the World Health Organization, “Self care is what people do for themselves to establish and maintain health, and to prevent and deal with illness” (Geneva, 1998). Self care is a broad concept that includes any intentional actions people take to care for their physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual health. It can encompass personal hygiene, nutrition, leisure and lifestyle activities, exercise, sleep, medical care, counseling, therapy, time with friends and family, meditation, or spiritual activities.

Practicing effective self care can be a real challenge. Life is busy and often feels overwhelming. When we are struggling to meet the demands of work and home life and feeling like there are never enough hours in a day, it may seem impossible to consider finding some “me-time.” Although it may seem counterintuitive at first, making time for self care is actually essential if we want to care for others in our lives. A helpful analogy is to think of self care like an oxygen mask on an air plane. If the oxygen masks drop from the ceiling, we need to put on our own mask before we help anyone else with theirs. If we can’t breathe, we won’t be of help for long. When we don’t take the time for self care we neglect our oxygen masks and eventually we will feel worn out and zapped of energy, no matter how much we may want to be available for others. Consequences of neglecting self care may include burnout or compassion fatigue.

Self care looks different for each individual. For me, it means making sure that at least once a week I have time to sip my coffee as I sit with my cat looking out the window. It also means incorporating time into my schedule to make art. For you, self care might mean scheduling time to relax with a bath and listen to some music, or making sure that you eat at least one healthy meal each day, or planning a fun evening with supportive friends. Self care can be very simple and doesn’t have to involve lots of time or resources – it’s about creatively figuring out what helps YOU to maintain your physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual health.

The first step to practicing effective self care may be spending some time getting to know yourself in this new way and discovering what nourishes you. One awesome way to do this is to attend the Friday morning art therapy groups at Art as Therapy, starting on April 10, 2015. During this three part series entitled “Self Care for Those who Care,” participants will be invited through the art making process to explore concepts of burnout, to identify personal needs, and to gain the tools needed to nurture themselves. No previous art experience is required! Participants will have the opportunity to tap into their creativity to find answers in a safe and inviting environment, benefitting from peer support facilitated by experienced art therapists. For more information or to sign up, please visit the “Events” section of our website, or give us a call.

Today, why not try one simple act of self care. Go for a five minute walk, drink a glass of water, or take an extra few minutes to read the comics in the newspaper. You might just be surprised at how it re-energizes your day!